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Europeans Still Looking for Answers; USA Has Them for Now
What have we learned so far? What have learned after watching some of the finest clutch golf shots of the year? After watching match after match in the afternoon extend to the final hole, almost until it was too dark to play?
We learned that the real reason Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson were given the afternoon off was because they had scorched the golf course so badly in their morning match that they spent the rest of the day being fitted for fire-retardant polo shirts which will be specially ordered from the Medinah pro shop and delivered in time for tomorrow's singles matches. They had won their morning foursomes match against Westwood and Donald in a ridiculous 7-and-6 drubbing. This exciting Dynamic Duo have been the heart and soul of Team USA's charge.
Nicolas Colsaerts, the longest hitter on any continent, is the first Ryder Cupper from Belgium, a country which has approximately 60,000 golfers (or, roughly the same number of people in the gallery on the grounds of Medinah today).
We learned to never bet against Ian Poulter in Ryder Cup competition. He is absolute money when the game is on the line. With his win this afternoon with McIlroy against Dufner and Zach Johnson, he is 11-3 in Ryder Cup play. He finished the afternoon match with five straight birdies, including the match-clinching 18-footer on the 18th hole as the sun set on the day's play.
Watch out for Tiger in tomorrow's singles match. He's on a roll. He's had five birdies on the back nine twice in two days. Molinari will have his hands full against Tiger tomorrow.
We learned Webb Simpson is on a one-man mission to convince the world of the efficacy of the belly putter, as he was a juggernaut on the greens in his afternoon four-ball match, carrying Bubba on his shoulders in their win over Rose and Molinari.
And, finally, we learned, from the experience of 1999 at Brookline, that a 10-6 lead is not safe.
In the chess game that is called "choosing the pairings for the singles matches for the final day of the Ryder Cup," Olazabal has front-loaded the pairings for tomorrow's matches, putting his strongest players in the first handful of matches, hoping to charge out to the gate early to set the tone and then try to hold on at the end.
When asked what his strategy was in his pairings for the singles, Olazabal said, "We can't hide anything. We are four points behind, and it's obvious what we need to do." After being asked if he "had a feeling" (a reference to Crenshaw's famous announcement prior to Team USA's comeback win in 1999), Olazabal laughed and said, "I believe. I believe it is not over. That's what I learned from Seve. Of course we have a tough task ahead, but it's not over. It's as simple as that."
In one of the most thrilling matches of this afternoon, and the final match of the day, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy hung on to win a point against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. Here is what Poulter and McIlroy had to say to reporters afterward.
MODERATOR: Five birdies in a row, tell us how you do that.
IAN POULTER: I don't know. But I mean, it comes from within. And you know, if we can do anything to get this trophy in this position, and Seve is looking down on us, then you've got to do what you've got to do.
Q. What's it like to play alongside him when he's doing stuff like that?
RORY McILROY: It's unbelievable. We needed something to happen, some sort of a spark and I think the birdie on 13 sort of sparked us and gave us a bit of momentum. Then Ian sort of took over from there. It was good to be a part of; he was incredible on the way in. All the credit needs to be put on this man.
Q. We know he's one of the most positive golfers we've ever seen. Will you feed off that positivity?
RORY McILROY: For sure. Even though we were a couple down early on, we were both saying to each other, we can still get it back, and we did that in the end, and you know, thanks to some incredible golf by this man.
Q. The Americans obviously came from 10 6 behind at Brookline; can you do it here away from home?
IAN POULTER: We've got a chance and that's all we can do. It was crucial to get at least two points out of this session for the guys to go out tomorrow.
Q. Where do you want to play in the singles draw?
RORY McILROY: Any one of the 12 positions. I just want to go out and get a point for the team.
Q. My goodness, how is your heart rate? What a finish.
IAN POULTER: It was unbelievable. Rory started on 13 with a great 18 feet downhill left to right putt and from then on, I guess the putter warmed up nicely for us. It was pretty cold, and then it just went crazy.
Q. Until that 13th, your birdie on the 13th, it didn't look too good?
RORY McILROY: We were just struggling to get anything going. We just needed a strong, anything, a chip in or a holed putt or even a missed putt by them just to get something going. Thankfully I was able to make a birdie on 13, and that definitely got this man going, anyway. He just took over from there.
Q. And contributed to 29 on the back nine, so that's pretty tidy. How was the atmosphere and how are you feeding off that?
IAN POULTER: Was tough. We are in Chicago; they had a few drinks today and they weren't making it easy for you, I'll be honest. It was brutal. And I kept saying, and Rory kept saying to me, the only thing we can do is make a birdie to try and keep them a little quiet. But it was pretty loud there.
Q. 10 6, last time at Brookline RORY McILROY: Of course it can be. We have 12 great players on this team and we just need to go out there tomorrow, believe in ourselves and try as hard as we can to get that point for the team.
Q. Europe rolling on the ropes but the last hour has been pretty dramatic for both of you, and both of you helped bring us back into it.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, you know, things were not going along that well for the first 12 holes, and we sort of got something going there the last six, at least Ian did, anyway. We got it back to 1 after 13, and then this man played some great golf coming in, held some great putts, and birdied the last five holes. So it was just incredible golf, and it's nice to have such a great partner.
Q. Justin Rose was just standing nearby and said you might be playing with the world No. 1, but you're the No. 1 Ryder Cup player for Europe.
IAN POULTER: Well, I don't know about that, but I mean, I just love The Ryder Cup. You just try to get your hands back on the trophy. It's not about me; it's about the team. We have kind of recovered a little bit today. Again it was not looking good. We have halved this session and we need to go out there real strong tomorrow and try and get our hands back on this trophy.
Q. There are a lot of European fans that are going to see 10 6 tonight; can you give them relief that there's a chance Europe can win this tomorrow?
RORY McILROY: Of course there's a chance. We have to believe that we are going to go out and win. We all have to go out there and believe that we are going to win our match. And it's going to be weird for them, as well, getting split up. They have had a couple of really strong partnerships and now that they are not playing together anymore, it will be different for them. Hopefully we can take advantage of them and get a few points on the board early and put them under pressure.
Q. Do you see yourself as the leader of this team?
IAN POULTER: Not leader. I just love it. Eleven other great lads, great captain, vice captains, incredible week, something that you just don't get in normal, regulation golf. It brings you closer to everybody else, and they are special moments.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy ASAP Sports.
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